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Deskins Meets With Teachers, Hears Concerns




David Deskins, Archbold Area School District superintendent, told the school board at its Monday, Nov. 17 meeting that he had met with members of the teaching staff and heard their concerns.

Speaking to the board, Deskins said he met with the teaching staff in the district’s three buildings to discuss the vacancy on the school board created by the resignation of David Yoder.

He said the meetings also provided a chance for the staff to weigh in, expressing their concerns.

He said the school administration and the Archbold Education Association, the group that represents the teachers in contract negotiations with the board, have decided to move forward with labor-management talks.

Hearing Concerns

In a later interview, Deskins said he scheduled the meetings, in part, because, “I wanted to hear from staff members the concerns they had about the processes being used by the board and the administration.”

The processes “surround the decision-making” of the board, he said.

He did hear those concerns.

“Staff members shared openly some of their concerns with present and past decisions by the board, and also the manner in which the decisions were carried out by the superintendent.”

When asked specifically what the teaching staff’s concerns were, he said he would withhold comments, “to make sure we have an opportunity to address the issues in private.”

Deskins said the majority of the issues expressed by the teaching staff had been previously conveyed to board members.

He said he had tried diligently to help board members understand the magnitude of the concerns on the part of the teaching staff.

Toward that end, Deskins suggested holding more meetings with members of the teaching staff, and bringing one or two members of the board to the meetings.

Deskins said he believes, “we have made a great first step.

“It’s going to take a lot of work and commitment on the part of the board and administration, as well as the staff,” to settle the issues between the two sides.

“I believe the community wants to see us work together, to present a positive learning environment for our students,” he said.

Labor-Management

The AEA and the board have agreed to initiate a labor-management process.

Deskins said the process is a free-of-charge program offered by the Federal Mediation Service.

Federal mediators will provide training to a joint labormanagement team. That team will then work toward positive labor relations.

The board and the AEA have indicated a willingness to participate in the process, Deskins said.

The school administration and the AEA leadership are working on setting up dates for the labor-management process as soon as possible.

Origins

The origins of the labor-management process go back to February, after the school board and the AEA approved the salary re-opener clause of the contact between the board and the AEA.

Negotiations on the contract re-opener started in April 2006; the process lasted almost a year.

In a statement after the contract was reached, Ben Gericke, then AEA president, said, “I am not entirely happy with how the (contract negotiation) process played out.

“This is an issue that will be addressed over time.

“The other issues that have been brought about because of this process will also need to be addressed in due time as well,” he said.

Another issue that has come between the board and the teaching staff is the non-renewal of the supplemental girls basketball and baseball coaching contracts of Kevin “Scoop” Miller, who had held the post for a decade.

The board opted not to renew K. Miller’s contract Monday night, Aug. 18.

Representatives of the school coaching staff and the AEA have appeared at school board meetings to question the decision.


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